In a bid to create space for dialogue and allow for aid to reach the public, Southeast Asian leaders on Wednesday called for an immediate end to the fighting in military-ruled Myanmar
“We were deeply concerned with ongoing violence in Myanmar and urged the immediate cessation of all forms of violence and the use of force,” leaders said in a joint statement after discussing the issue at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia.
Patience within the 10-member bloc is wearing thin as Myanmar’s junta leaders fail to act on the five-point peace plan it agreed to two years ago.
Hope for Myanmar rests on ASEAN overcoming its inaction
The deal called for Myanmar to allow a special ASEAN envoy to meet the imprisoned former leader Aung San Suu Kyito promote dialogue. Myanmar’s lack of cooperation led to its exclusion from the November 2022 ASEAN meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, after an ASEAN representative was not allowed to meet the former leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Since then, Myanmar’s seat in the bloc has remained empty.
ASEAN leaders sought the creation of “a conducive environment for the safe and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance and inclusive national dialogues.”
This comes days after unknown assailants shot at a convoy of regional diplomats and aid workers attempting to bring relief to the 1 million people displaced by the conflict since the coup in 2021.
“We condemned the attack and underlined that the perpetrators must be held accountable,” ASEAN leaders said in their statement.
Moreover, Myanmar’s military has intensified attacks and airstrikes on ethnic minority rebels as it tries to consolidate power ahead of a planned election.
An airstrike on a village in a rebel stronghold last month — reportedly killing about 170 people — sparked global condemnation and worsened the junta’s isolation.